Itchenor initiatives will get more people on the water

That's our Itchenor SC columnist mike Wigmore on the right / Picture by Rick Tomlinson
That's our Itchenor SC columnist mike Wigmore on the right / Picture by Rick Tomlinson

Mike Wigmore, rear-commodore sailing, Itchenor Sailing Club, looks ahead to a busy sailing summer in his latest Setting Sail column...

The sun is out and spring is here at last. The sailing season is well under way at Itchenor with racing for our three keelboat classes and five dinghy classes taking place every Saturday and Sunday.

Our full youth and junior programme of training has been taking place on selected weekends throughout the winter and this year’s summer programme is set to be as busy as ever. The weekday evening racing for keelboats is about to start so now is the time to join us and get involved.

We have a number of initiatives new to our sailing offering this year. One of these is the Singlehander class which expands our racing programme from just Lasers to embrace any single-hander no faster than an RS Aero9 and no slower than the traditional much-raced Solo class.

This enhances the single-handed sailing options at the club and will increase the participation in that area of dinghy sailing.

The class had an open meeting day on Saturday, April 21, which included the Hadron H2 open, and has another on Saturday, June 23 – a demo day for RS Aero. This is to encourage non-members to come and enjoy what we do.

Our main new initiative for this year is the 2000 Experience. This is a programme for those looking to have fun while developing their sailing skills.

With weekly events ranging from dinghy cruising and beach picnics to regattas and fun racing the new programme is tailored for those who want to enjoy being out on the water in a relaxed atmosphere without the challenges of competitive racing.

As part of the initiative, we have invested in three brand-new 2000 dinghies that can be hired by members on a full or half day basis. Our official launch party takes place on Sunday, May 6.

* Read Setting Sail in the Observer and on this website each month throughout the summer.

PUSH THE BOAT OUT

The RYA Push the Boat Out campaign is back in May, with free sailing and windsurfing taster sessions for everyone across the UK. RYA director of sport development Alistair Dickson said: “We’re delighted that Push the Boat Out is running for the whole of May. This year it will be bigger than ever before with almost 400 venues hosting events.

“So, if you’re looking for something completely different to do with the family, a workout in the fresh air or perhaps to get back out on the water after having a break then pop down to your local sailing club or centre during May and push the boat out.”

 All kit and safety equipment is provided and no experience is needed. Refreshments will be available at many Push the Boat Out events with a host of shoreside activities and entertainment for visitors to enjoy.

Clubs in West Sussex taking part include Bognor Regis Sailing Club, Felpham Sailing Club and Pagham Yacht Club.

Also involved are West Wittering Sailing Club with an event on Saturday, May 19.

The day is open to all and a taster session in a boat is free. Volunteers at the club will be offering rides in club dinghies for children and, for adults, the opportunity to go afloat on one of WWSC’s support boats.

Head to the club website to find contact information and details of the day’s itinerary or contact info@weston.org.uk direct.

Organisers will provide all the equipment you need, just take a change of clothes, sneakers and a towel. Sessions are a minimum of half an hour and can be longer.

Susie Moore, RYA regional development officer for the south, said: “So many people still don’t realise how easy it can be to get into sailing and windsurfing, and that you don’t even need to own a boat or board as clubs and centres have ones you can borrow or hire.”

Last year 31,000 people ‘pushed the boat out’ at 500-plus sailing and windsurfing taster sessions throughout the UK.

Fnd your nearest this year – visit www.rya.org.uk/PTBO

Saskia Clark, Rio 2016 gold medallist said: “I got into sailing through my local club so it’s fantastic to see so many people given the opportunity to discover what the sport’s all about right on their doorstep.

“If you want to inspire your non-sailing friends and family to giving sailing and windsurfing a go, make sure you put Push the Boat Out in the diary.”